Your operating system is what holds you back

Elon Musk. Barack Obama. Lance Armstrong. I need to be these men to achieve my wildest dreams. I can’t be anyone but myself. All I can do is upgrade my operating system.

To have something you’ve never had you have to do something you’ve never done. To do something you’ve never done you have to be someone you’ve never been.

Imagine if you had Elon’s entrepreneurial might and his ability to marshal capital and put it to use. If you had Barack’s remarkable public speaking talent and ability to organize massive groups of people behind a common cause. Lance Armstrong’s athletic excellence and champion’s mindset. What would you accomplish if you were them? If your mind ran the same operating system as theirs?

Everyone has a different operating system. It’s always running just below the surface, dictating how we act and react to situations. Each operating system is shaped by past traumas and victories. Transformation involves upgrading the operating system in order to act/react differently, producing different outcomes.

Practical strategies for upgrading your operating system involve digging up the past and acknowledging it. You can also force yourself into transformational circumstances. Like Jia Jiang, in Rejection Proof, face rejection again and again until the fear is gone. Afraid of public speaking? Talk to strangers at every opportunity. The idea is you have to do something uncomfortable to upgrade your operating system. Otherwise your outcomes won’t change, even if you win a lottery.

As TD Jakes beautifully said, You can change your hair, your clothing, your house, your spouse, your church, your residence, but if you don’t change your mind, the same experience will perpetuate itself over and over again, because everything outwardly changed but nothing inwardly changed. There is nothing as powerful as a changed mind.

Upgrade your operating system.

You Don’t Have a Motivation Problem, You Have a Vision Problem

I need a compelling #vision to know where I’m going. Once I know what direction to go, I can move as fast as possible. If I don’t have a vision, I go in circles, moving slower than a snails pace.

It takes vision to live deliberately. A lack of vision takes you to your default future, you just go with the flow. Where do you want to end up?

So ask yourself, what is my vision for my #self? My #home? My #family?

#manager, what is my vision for my employees?

#leader, what is my vision for my team?

#engineer, what is my vision for my project?

#blogger, what is my vision for my blog?

#entrepreneur, what is my vision for my business?

There are no uninteresting things; there are only uninterested people.

This is a story told by Marion D. Hanks of an obscure spinster woman in London who insisted that she never had a chance. She muttered these words to Dr. Louis Agassiz, distinguished naturalist, after one of his lectures. In response to her complaint, he replied:

“Do you say, madam, you never had a chance? What do you do?”

“I am single and help my sister run a boardinghouse.”

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I skin potatoes and chop onions.”

He said, “Madam, where do you sit during these interesting but homely duties?”

“On the bottom step of the kitchen stairs.”

“Where do your feet rest?”

“On the glazed brick.”

“What is glazed brick?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

He said, “How long have you been sitting there?”

She said, “Fifteen years.”

“Madam, here is my personal card,” said Dr. Agassiz. “Would you kindly write me a letter concerning the nature of a glazed brick?”

She took him seriously. She went home and explored the dictionary and discovered that a brick was a piece of baked clay. That definition seemed too simple to send to Dr. Agassiz, so after the dishes were washed, she went to the library and in an encyclopedia read that a glazed brick is vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate. She didn’t know what that meant, but she was curious and found out. She took the word vitrified and read all she could find about it. Then she visited museums. She moved out of the basement of her life and into a new world on the wings of vitrified.And having started, she took the word hydrous, studied geology, and went back in her studies to the time when God started the world and laid the clay beds. One afternoon she went to a brickyard, where she found the history of more than 120 kinds of bricks and tiles, and why there have to be so many. Then she sat down and wrote thirty-six pages on the subject of glazed brick and tile.

Back came the letter from Dr. Agassiz: “Dear Madam, this is the best article I have ever seen on the subject. If you will kindly change the three words marked with asterisks, I will have it published and pay you for it.”

A short time later there came a letter that brought $250, and penciled on the bottom of this letter was this query: “What was under those bricks?” She had learned the value of time and answered with a single word: “Ants.” He wrote back and said, “Tell me about the ants.”

She began to study ants. She found there were between eighteen hundred and twenty-five hundred different kinds. There are ants so tiny you could put three head-to-head on a pin and have standing room left over for other ants; ants an inch long that march in solid armies half a mile wide, driving everything ahead of them; ants that are blind; ants that get wings on the afternoon of the day they die; ants that build anthills so tiny that you can cover one with a lady’s silver thimble; peasant ants that keep cows to milk, and then deliver the fresh milk to the apartment house of the aristocrat ants of the neighborhood.

After wide reading, much microscopic work, and deep study, the spinster sat down and wrote Dr. Agassiz 360 pages on the subject. He published the book and sent her the money, and she went to visit all the lands of her dreams on the proceeds of her work.

Now as you hear this story, do you feel acutely that all of us are sitting with a our feet on pieces of vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate–with ants under them? Lord Chesterton answers: “There are no uninteresting things; there are only uninterested people.”

Keep learning.

Hanks, Marion D. “Good Teachers Matter.” Ensign, http://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/07/good-teachers-matter?lang=eng.

Kiva Makes a Difference

I almost forgot about Kiva after donating for the first time. I didn’t think about it much until this holiday season when my dad told me to give to a charity instead of giving him gifts. I had an epiphany: why not both? I gave my dad a Kiva gift card.

What is Kiva?

Kiva is a not-for-profit that specializes in micro-lending. Instead of just donating to a named charity, donors choose a borrower. Funds are distributed to the borrower through a local bank partnered with Kiva. Then, as the borrower makes repayment, the balance is credited to the donor for use towards a future micro-loan. Also, the borrower is encouraged to give updates on goals, as a way of connecting with their charitable lenders. Kiva is a platform enabling less-privileged people to gain access to desperately needed funds.

The Gift of Giving

I gave my dad a Kiva gift card this holiday season. Now he will learn about someone who needs his support and give them some of the money they need to get started. Some examples of possible borrowers my dad will find are: farmers who need cash to buy a new animal. Students who need to pay tuition. I gave him the gift of giving.

Who I first donated to on Kiva

I donated to a young Peruvian woman who needed help paying for higher education. She has partially repaid her loan and continues making regular payments. She is almost done with school and is already working at PepsiCo as an intern.

An Aside on Charitable Donations

Employees may not be aware of their company donation matching program. During 2017, our family increased our charitable donations and took advantage of Symantec’s (my employer) donor matching program more than ever. Using your employer match program can sometimes double the amount of the donation. Use it!

Get Started

It’s simple to sign up and start browsing Kiva loan applications. The minimum loan contribution is $25.

If you use my link to sign up, Kiva will give me $25 to loan out to someone in need.

HELL YEAH or NO

Reflecting on Derek Sivers “Either HELL or NO“.

It’s okay if you don’t have something you’re really excited about. Books. Podcasts. Albums. Projects.

It’s okay to take a break.

It’s okay to wait for a HELL YEAH option to present yourself.

It’s not okay to fill every moment with activities you aren’t thrilled about.

Priorities

Managers differ from leaders in that no one wants to be managed and most people want to be led. As a leader I care deeply about enabling my people do their best work.

I know that people cannot do their best work when their health, home and family are not in order. If their own health is not in order they cannot do their best work and cannot do their best to care for loved ones. They are at work, and the family crisis is always in the back of their mind.

The person’s health comes before family comes before work. When those things are in order, when they are at work, they can give their all. They are enabled to do their best work.

Creating a safe environment and enabling this to happen distinguishes a Multiplier Leader from a Diminisher Leader.

  1. Your Own Health
  2. Your Family
  3. Work

Sometimes it’s hard. What if a key team asset has a crisis and needs to take months leave of absence? The team needs to come together and cover the gaps. Each individual person may deal with a future crisis.

How to apply it:

  • Take an honest assessment of your own health of mind and body. Are you taking care of yourself?
  • Take an honest assessment of what baggage you carry to work. Are you thinking about a brewing home crisis instead of being fully present?
  • Practice empathy with your peers. Support them when they need it most.

Framework for Mentee Goal Setting

Below are some areas to focus on when setting smart goals for team members. This can be discussed in a 1 on 1 meeting, for example.

Productivity

How much do you accomplish now? How do you measure your productivity? How can you increase your value output?

Focus

Do you tend to take on too many projects and make small progress on all of them? How can avoid distractions and focus on fewer projects end to end?

Specialization

What are you really good it? What can you teach others better than anyone else? What skills and knowledge make you irreplaceable? In what new skills/knowledge are you excited about investing more time and energy?

Workability

How easy is it for peers to communicate with you? Do you slow down others or speed them up? Are you two steps ahead or one step behind? Do people come to you to ask questions? How can you make yourself easier to interact and communicate with?

Nugget from Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Happiness comes from four things:

  • Perceived control
  • Perceived progress
  • Human connection- depth and number of relationships
  • Being part of something bigger than yourself

How to Apply It:

Set aside time for all of these things. Build career capital for later investment, to gain more control of your life. Set incremental SMART goals to progress on. Take time to reconnect with friends and family. Don’t forget how large the universe is compared to your